Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Ginsberg & Ginsberg

I don't know if you watch Mad Men but I never miss an episode. Last season they introduced a new character, copywriter Michael Ginsberg. Ginsberg is Jewish, very talented (another character in the show calls him lightening in a bottle), and a little nuts. The second I heard his last name I thought of poet Allen Ginsberg and wondered if giving this character the same last name as Allen Ginsberg was done on purpose. Now after watching last Sunday's episode, A Tale of Two Cities, I am sure it is not an accident.

In that episode Michael Ginsberg has a bit of a mental breakdown when asked to make a presentation to a client. He crouches on the floor and hysterically starts babbling about his fears and hallucinations.

I'm not scared, I'm a thug! I'm a pig! I'm part of the problem! Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds!...listen, Man, I can't turn off the transmissions to do harm, they're beaming them right into my head.....

What popped into my own head while listening to him? Poet Allen Ginsberg, of course. Why? Because Allen Ginsberg spent time in a metal hospital and because thinking about Allen Ginsberg led me, inevitably, to thinking about his great poem about madness, Howl; which begins with these words:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..

Today I reread Howl and this section jumped out at me:

...who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,...

I think we can safety say that poor Michael Ginsberg has definitely been run down by Absolute Reality in this episode. The question is will he survive or will one of the best minds at Sterling Cooper & Partners be destroyed by madness?

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